Renovations Drove $9 Billion in NYC Construction Last Year: Building Congress


Over the last three years, alterations have generated an average of $9.3 billion in construction work annually, nearly half of which came from commercial renovations, according to a new report from the New York Building Congress.

Commercial buildings—including offices, hotels and retail—accounted for 46 percent of all alteration permits by value in 2016, and office construction made up 70 percent of those commercial permits. Overall, the New York City Department of Buildings issued 5,641 permits for renovations last year.

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Interior construction “is the unsung hero of the construction industry,” said Carlo Scissura, NYBC’s president and chief executive officer. And office renovation is on the rise as owners of half-century-old Midtown office buildings try to draw tenants who might otherwise move to new developments Downtown or on the Far West Side.

“With Hudson Yards, the Brookfield Properties at Manhattan West and the World Trade Center, there’s a lot of new office space being built,” Scissura explained. “A lot of commercial buildings are trying to compete, so they’re spending millions of dollars to upgrade their buildings. If you drive up Sixth Avenue, every single [office] building is under renovation.”

Work on large institutional buildings was the second-biggest driver of renovations last year, making up just over a third of all alteration permits. Institutional buildings is a broad category that includes public schools, higher education, hospitals, entertainment and cultural facilities, as well as government buildings. Among institutional buildings, schools tend to have the priciest renovations, averaging more than $3 million per permit. But across all building types, upgrades of “miscellaneous nonresidential structures” like subway stations, park facilities and libraries tend to be the priciest.

Multifamily buildings came in third, accounting for 16 percent of all alteration permits issued last year.

Not surprisingly, 70 percent of all alteration permits were issued for work in Manhattan, which is home to 93 percent of the city’s office renovations. Brooklyn had 13 percent of renovation permits, followed by Queens with 9 percent, the Bronx with 7 percent and Staten Island with just 1 percent.